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Language learning community busuu.com secures first round

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[Spain/Austria] Last week busuu.com closed their first funding round from an undisclosed Austrian serial angel investor.  The total sum is also not clear, but appears to be below €500,000.

Busuu.com is a two year old, online community based language learning startup, launched out of Spain, founded by non-Spaniards, Bernhard Niesner (Austria) and Adrian Hilti (Switzerland).

Last December, busuu.com reached break even. With the new money, busuu.com plans to mainly invest in expanding and improving their platform, including its language offering, mobile apps and of course a marketing push to grow their user base which currently claims 300,000 users, mainly from Spain, Germany, UK, France, Italy and Austria.

The free-to-join language learning community offers users pre-made courses, split into 4 levels – the company recently signed a content partnership with PONS Publishing Group. However, their most attractive feature by far is that users can interact with other native speakers within the Busuu community, this means video chatting and peer-to-peer corrections.

“Every day, more than 10,000 new texts are written and corrected within our community and several hundred live-chats are taking place at the same time.” says Niesner. They’ve also incorporated a gaming aspect in order to create more of an incentive for users to become active participants, both as students and tutors.

The online language learning market is huge, plenty enough for lots of players to pick at.

Some obvious competitors are the US-based livemocha ($14 million in funding) and European Babbel, who run similar online language learning communities.

Busuu.com is trailing Babbel in users, but claims they’ll get there quickly and more so now that Babbel has dropped their freemium offer.

Myngle with a total of €2.1 million in funding is based on a different approach, they are more of a platform for professional teachers to offer courses to students.

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